Organized team activities are underway at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, though this year things look a little different than in years past. Veteran players on several teams around the league, the Seahawks included, announced earlier this offseason through the NFLPA that they would not take part in voluntary offseason workouts, citing COVID-19 concerns. As a result, OTAs currently are more of an extension of rookie minicamp than a full-team workout, though veterans are still taking part in virtual meetings and some are working out or rehabbing at the VMAC even if they aren't taking part in on-field work. For more on that, as well as a few other topics, here are five things we learned from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll following Thursday's session of OTAs:
1. About 35 players are participating in OTAs right now.
While most veteran players aren't around, Carroll likes the work that is getting done with a group that is mostly the same as the one that took part in rookie minicamp, a roster made up of Seattle's three draft picks, 13 undrafted free agent signings, as well as a handful of young players who aren't rookies but who have little or no NFL playing time under their belts.
"We've got just under 40 guys now, 35 guys or something like that that are working here, the guys that have come in this time of year, from the rookie class primarily," Carroll said. "We're catching those guys up so that when we get to camp, those guys can hold their own.
"I think you'd be surprised how sharp they are and how far along they've already come. I made the comment to them again today as we broke for the weekend that they're working really hard, they're really diligent about it. It matters to these guys, obviously, because they're putting in the time, and they're able to bring it from the meeting room to the field. So we're making good progress. So they're going to be caught up when we come together. I told the team in our Zoom meeting today that they're going to be surprised how far along these guys have come, so it's good group."
2. The Seahawks are "making terrific progress" even without a full squad.
As for the players who aren't in camp, Carroll isn't holding it against veterans who are choosing to stay away from this voluntary portion of the offseason program.
"I support these guys, I support the decision that we've made," he said.
And regardless of where players are right now, they are taking part in virtual team meetings, a continuation of how the team had to adapt last year when the COVID-19 pandemic cause the in-person offseason program to be cancelled.
"We have guys working out all over the country, and guys who are working out locally that are doing their stuff," Carroll said. "… We meet four days a week virtually with our team and we're making terrific progress and things are moving along.
"We've been here before with what we can get done in virtual and again, it's going great. Our guys are dedicated and working their butts off everywhere, all over the place… I do know that we have found a rhythm in our Zoom meetings, and in communication that we've done that. If you remember last year, I was concerned because I didn't know what the result would be until we saw what the result was, and we thought we made more progress that way last year than we had in years past, so I'm counting on that again. I don't know that it's better, I wouldn't think that but, but I know it's a good way to go. And it really does accentuate the communication part of it, and that interaction has really worked out well. You'd be surprised how live it feels to guys when they're going through their sequences and they're going through all of the situations that we put them in, and all of the communication that they have to make. Everybody's really held accountable for it. Our guys are giving their own presentations of different aspects of the installation, so they're called on to have to prepare to do that as units. So all in all the coaches have made it very creative and very interactive, and the reaction and response has been great."
3. Almost everyone should be in attendance for next month's minicamp.
While OTAs are voluntary, the team's minicamp in mid-June is not, and Carroll, who has been in contact with some of the team's veteran leaders like Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, does expect that just about everyone should be in attendance for that on-field work.
"Our activities will pick up as we get closer to minicamp," he said. "We expect pretty darn good attendance minicamp. There's a couple of guys that have some special situations, but for the most part we expect our guys to be there. The week before is a really important week as well in preparation for it, so we'll see more guys coming through as we get to the middle of June there. So the conversations have been open—I've talked to a bunch of guys, I've talked to our representatives, I've talked to Bobby and Russ for sure. So we're communicating on a good level about. It hasn't been a negotiation, it's been a conversation about it and we're kind of partnering in this thing to put it together so we can get what we need to get done.
"Right now, what we're doing is we're preparing to get ready for camp. That's what this is. It's a voluntary time for us to take advantage of our opportunities, and I love the way our guys are learning. I know where they're going to be mentally, based on what we did last year without any offseason work. So anything that we get done here will be a bonus to that, and we plan to do this really well."
4. Carroll hopes to have a fully vaccinated team by the start of training camp.
While COVID-19 vaccinations won't be a requirement for players, Carroll is really hoping that his team will be fully vaccinated by the time training camp starts in late July, and has been trying educate his team on the topic, including by having Dr. Vin Gupta take part in a virtual team meeting to answer questions from players.
"I have been in the conversation, since the whole vaccination thing got underway, with our players trying to educate them and introduce them to ways of looking at stuff and perspectives for the guys that had questions," Carroll said. "I don't know what our numbers are right now, but I made a pitch again today to our guys so they're aware of the timeframe that's left in the summertime before camp starts. Ideally we'd like everybody to be vaccinated before we report to camp just to make it as safe as possible for everyone. I've had some that some conversation with guys, we brought in Vin Gupta, he came in and talked to our guys about it and gave a real big pitch, and we've had some opportunities to the families also to get vaccinated , just to keep the message alive and keep it moving. So we've got a ways to go here, but our goal is to get everybody vaccinated before we start it up."
5. The "door is still open" for a potential K.J. Wright re-signing, though nothing is imminent.
"The door is still open for players. We're still working at figuring out the roster and how it's going to go. Until we get on the field and can see how things are starting to come together, there won't be major changes in what's going on, because we're pretty committed at this point. That doesn't mean that we're not tuned into all of the options and the opportunities that are out there, because we are. But K.J. is OK at this point, he's doing fine, and if we get a chance to call on him, we'll go after it and see if we can put something together."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' organized team activities held on Thursday, May 27 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.